SEAN ‘MASHER’ DODD – A TRIBUTE.

SEAN ‘MASHER’ DODD – A TRIBUTE. 

Since the late 1990s Birkenhead has been in steady decline, problems of mass unemployment as well as high rates of crime and poverty have ravaged this once great town. In recent years, there has not been a lot to smile about. However, one bright star in these dark years has been the boxing career of Sean ‘MASHER’ Dodd. 

By his own admission, Dodd was a Scallywag brought up on the local estates and much of his youth was spent fighting either on football pitches or in pubs and clubs. This started to change one Friday night at a local Boxing show, aged in his mid-20s the football playing loveable rogue was about to change his life inspired by the events of that night. Dodd walked in through the doors of Birkenhead Venture Boxing Club the very next Monday.

In Boxing terms. Dodd didn’t know his left from his right but he was fit, lean, strong, determined and a good blank canvas to work from. A very short time later, he would compete for the first time. Dodd only tasted defeat twice in his 19 contests as an amateur, winning two National Titles at two different weights along the way: Novice Class-A and Class-B at welterweight and Light-Welterweight respectively.

Whilst lacking natural flair and talent, his awkward style and his unorthodox approach made him a great fit for the professional game. So, in March 2012 Dodd would make his debut at Chester’s Northgate arena against Guiseppe Daprato. Hundreds of Masher’s friends, family and clubmates followed him in droves as he soon started to have a cult following. 

Dodd then won his first eight contests straight, with an eventual Central Area Super Featherweight title shot against Barnsley’s Andy Townend scheduled for May 2014. Hundreds of supporters from both side’s made for a powder-keg atmosphere and during the fight a riot between both sets of fans ensued, bringing the Doncaster Dome venue into chaos. After two re-starts to the fight and his concentration, Dodd lost to a seventh round TKO. 

Dodd then bounced back 10 months later with a points win against Liam Richards, 6 months after that Scott Cardle the reigning British Light-weight Champion withdrew from a title defence against Wales’ Gary Buckland. Dodd stepped in as a late replacement for the champion which was now built as a British title fight eliminator by Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, this would be Dodd’s first appearance live on Sky Sports. After a shock victory against the multi-titled Buckland, Dodd was now going to challenge Cardle for the British Lightweight title. On the 7th November 2015, Dodd boxed Cardle and was way ahead of him on the judge’s scorecards when he was controversially stopped in the very last round; the uproar was massive and referee Terry O’Connor was scrutinised and an immediate re-match was ordered. 

Five months later, the pair met again and Dodd had seemingly cruised to a comfortable win. However, after the result was announced – two judges had it even and one judge had Dodd winning by two rounds. Besides this, the decision was a technical draw allowing Cardle to retain his title. The sense of injustice was massive and the controversy is talked about to this day. 

However, any disappointment was short lived as in his very next fight Dodd boxed for the WBC International Lightweight title winning on points against Italy’s Pasquale Di Silvio on a hot May evening in the open air at Goodison Park. This was on the Tony Bellew world title winning show.

Following up from that victory, came a win against Francesco Patera who two fights later won the European title. More was yet to come, Masher added the Commonwealth Lightweight title to his WBC International as he beat Lee Appleyard widely on points. Dodd then went on to box at his beloved Tranmere Rovers, winning the International Masters Super Lightweight title against Antonio Horvatic. 

Next up was a hate-filled local derby against Liverpool’s Thomas Stalker, a former Great Britain amateur team captain and Olympian, Dodd silencing the Liverpudlian with a wide points win. Dodd then lost his Commonwealth crown to Hull’s Tommy Coyle then took Wales’ Joe Cordina to a 12 round points decision loss. Only last weekend, Cordina confirmed his potential by becoming the IBF Champion of the World. A surprising sixth round defeat to Jordan Ellison on points made it a hat-trick of defeats but two great wins against Ibrar Riyaz and another local derby against Scouser Tom Farrell had him back in the mix. 

A controversial three rounds points loss to Birmingham’s Cori Gibbs in the Sky Sports Boxxer Series was recently followed up by a two round defeat to the upcoming Harlem Eubank.

If we were to take a look back over Masher’s opponents, and achievements it becomes quite impressive: Two amatuer National Title’s at two different weights, a British Title controversially snatched from him, WBC International Champion, Commonwealth Champion, International Masters Champion, having boxed a European Champion and now IBF World Champion, an Olympian and with a record like a who’s who of domestic boxing star’s it would appear our local scallywag has achieved more than most can ever dream of. If you coupled this with the fact that Masher didn’t know the first thing about Boxing until his mid-20’s, I think you would agree that his achievements have been more than outstanding.

It is hoped with this vast experience that he will be able to pass down some of that knowledge on to the next generation at his gym – The Birkenhead Venture Boxing Club. Regardless of what this bright star decides to shine on next, a man of such calibre will never have to buy a pint in Birkenhead ever again.

Sean ‘MASHER’ Dodd – Thank you for the memories. 

Adam Siddorn: Kieran Nye Memorial Cup.

Adam Siddorn: Kieran Nye Memorial Cup.

On Sunday 29th May at 2pm, Wirral Radio will face a team of Tranmere Legends at Ashville FC to raise money for the Martin Gallier Project in the memory of former Wirral Radio player Kieran Nye. 

Organiser and Wirral Radio FC manager Adam Siddorn spoke ahead of the game, which is set to be a great day for everyone attending.

How much planning goes into the charity games that you organise? Who came up with the idea for it and has everything gone as smoothly as you would’ve liked?

It takes a hell of a lot of planning, we started planning this match just before Christmas. You’ve got to get your players signed up and organise other little bits such as the raffle prizes but this is our tenth year doing it. This year I’ve made sure we’ve got a very big squad, everything has gone how we would’ve planned, there are things around the pitch to keep people entertained across the course of the day and we’re now ready for the kick off.

The game has been named the Kieran Nye memorial cup, would you be able to tell me and others reading about Kieran?

Kieran was a Wirral Radio player and the last time we played a charity match was 2019 at Heswall, it was the last match we organised before the lockdown. The charity match came, it was a great game and great night but the next day I received a call that said he had committed suicide so that was a hell of a shock to the football team and many others. It was a very emotional time and we’d always wanted to do something that remembers him. 

We’re raising money for the Martin Gallier project in New Ferry, they’re a suicide prevention and mental healthy chatity. They offered us support and help when Kieran died, for that I’ll always be eternally grateful. The work they do is wonderful so it’s a no-brainer that everything we do on the day of the game is donated to them.

The interview, relating to mental health, that you did with Kane Hemmings on Tranmere’s official Youtube Channel was quite good and insightful I thought.

Kane’s a great talker and he’s been through difficulties in the past which he spoke about in the interview, the fact he can be so open will hopefully encourage others to do the same. I thought it was really important that he spoke to us.

Just touching on some of the ex-pro’s that will play in the game, who will they be and have some played in previous charity games that you’ve organised?

Yeah, we have some seasoned pros. Gareth Roberts has played in all of the games, Danny Holmes, Clint Hill played last time, Danny Harrison, Ged Brannan, Alex Hay, Alan Navarro. However, there will be some debut’s too: Steve McNulty, Anthony Kay, Abdoulaye Bell-Baggie and James Norwood. It’ll be superb to see Norwood back in a Rovers shirt and raising money for a great charity.

Would you be able to tell us what activities/things are there to do and see before and after the game for people to make a day of the occasion?

There’s all sorts on across the course of the day, the doors open from 1pm and there will be bars and stalls including a paintballing stall. The game kicks off at 2pm, there will be a crossbar challenge at half time and some signed balls will be able to be won in the raffle. Jordan Edwards has kindly donated his services and will be performing, the bar is open till late. It’s a full day, evening and night and everyone is welcome to come down.

Focusing on Wirral Radio, as the game is Wirral Radio v Tranmere Legends, how are they doing recently?

We’ve finished mid-table in Division One so we’re doing okay but you can’t compare us to the legends! I’m fully expecting the legends to put at least five or six past us! Some of the team are Tranmere fans though so it’ll be a great experience for them to come up against the players. It’s a huge huge occasion and they feel very proud to be able to represent Kieran.

Has Wirral Radio ever beat the Legends?

Never, never never won. However, we’ve scored four against them in all of the meetings so if we score a goal it’s game on!

How can people buy tickets for the game?

You can pay on the day, £5 adults £2 for Under-18s. There are links on the social’s, on Twitter and Facebook under Wirral Radio v TRFC Legends, too for people to buy tickets.

Oldham Athletic, meeting the opposition.

Oldham Athletic, meeting the opposition.

With two games left of their League Two season and a frustrated Micky Mellon giving his verdict on his team in press conferences, Rovers’ campaign has fizzled out with their away performances and results both being a great reason for their lack of success.

In terms of the away form rankings, in comparison to other teams that Tranmere share the fourth division with, Mellon’s team come 17th. However, their home form sees them placed second – Exeter City sit first – and up next is a game against Oldham Athletic as John Sheridan’s Oldham Athletic travel to Merseyside.

Given that Oldham’s fate has been sealed, they will be playing National League football come August, it’s hard to predict how the ninety minutes will pan out. Paddy Harwood gave me his thoughts on all things Latics ahead of the upcoming encounter. 

With only a couple of games to go until the season ends, Oldham Athletic’s fate has been confirmed as they will play in the National League next season. How would you assess the way this season has gone for the Latics and what would you say are the reasons behind the struggle? How low is the relegation to the National League in comparison to other low experiences you’ve felt following the club? 

The season has been an absolute disaster from start to finish. We began the season with a fella from Geordie Shore playing on his own up front and it has got worse from that point! The main reason behind the season of struggle is the owners. They took out an EFL loan last summer, which meant the club were under an embargo and could only sign players on one year deals and for 800 quid a week. The owners’ brother is our Sporting Director and is heavily involved in the recruitment of players and the recruitment of players, to put it mildly, has been dreadful. We have also gone through three managers this season, two of whom were absolutely rubbish (Curle and Benachour). The recent run of 10 defeats in 12 games hasn’t helped matters either, especially when Barrow and Stevenage started to pick up points. Being relegated to the National League is an all time low for the football club. All season, I have thought we would pull a couple of wins out and get clear of the drop zone. I think the penny finally dropped for me when Piergianni was sent off against Northampton. We lost the game, Barrow and Stevenage won and we were going to be without our captain for three games against the likes of Jamile Matt and Matt Smith. Come August, I’ll have had the “pleasure” of watching Oldham in the Premier League all the way down to the Conference.

John Sheridan was appointed manager in late January for his sixth stint in charge. How would you describe his time at the club so far this year and what is his relationship with the fanbase currently like? 

His time at the club hasn’t gone so well this time. We did have a mini run of 3 wins and 4 draws when he first came in but we have recently lost 10 games in 12 and he has not been able to turn it around like I thought he could. His relationship with the fanbase is still as good as ever – for anyone under the age of 30, he is probably the greatest legend they have seen at the club. He is just about to sign a deal to stay on as manager for next season too. I’m not convinced that he is the man to build a side to try and get out of the National League, but the board reckon it will appease fans and boost Season Ticket sales… I think they’re in for a shock!

It has been reported that Oldham owner Abdallah Lemsagam is willing to sell. Have there been any further developments on this in terms of preferred bidders and if Lemsagam is to stay, do you think he could ever repair his relationship with the club’s fanbase? 

One thing we have learnt over the last 4 years is to never believe a word that Abdallah Lemsagam says. They put out a statement on Monday to say that they are still talking to bidders, but all bidders have signed a non-disclosure agreement. The relationship between Abdallah/Mohamed and the fanbase is irreparable. He doesn’t like us and we certainly do not like him. If he is still at the club next season, you can expect gates of less than 1000 against the likes of Bromley and Solihull Moors!

Who would you say your side’s key players are? 

Davis Keillor-Dunn has scored a few goals this season, but he is largely rubbish. Dylan Bahamboula might fancy it if the sun is out, but he has been missing since August. The captain, Carl Piergianni, is out through suspension so if your lot have anything about them, they’ll be lumping it up to a front man to win everything in the air against our makeshift backline of (probably) Harrison McGahey, who is at least a stone overweight and Kyle Jameson, who we signed after being released from Fylde and is usually good value for either an own goal or giving a penalty away.

How do you see the upcoming ninety minutes panning out? What is your score prediction? 

Hopefully with a partisan away crowd letting the Oldham players know exactly what they think about the “performances” they have put in this season. Oldham will probably win now that the games are unimportant, which just about sums that shower up.

What is Sheridan’s preferred playing style and who do you believe will be selected in the starting eleven? 

It has been quite direct this season and been a case of getting balls into the box. The problem is that we get balls into the box but there is no striker there to head it into the net! Our lineup will probably be Danny Rogers, Jordan Clarke, McGahey, Jameson, Hart, Missilou, Whelan, Adams, Keillor-Dunn, Stobbs and Luamba. Although I’m sure most Latics fans would like to see Harry Vaughan in the side, he is a decent young player and has been linked with moves away but Sheridan has kept him out of the side whilst we were in the relegation scrap as he wanted to go with more experienced players.

What are your thoughts on Tranmere this season? At time of writing, they sit just outside the play-offs but they’d be much further up the table if their away form wasn’t as damaging. Who would you say Rovers’ key players are? 

The only player I’m really aware of at Tranmere these days is Peter Clarke, who will always be remembered fondly by Oldham fans. He was also one of the first people to be stitched up by our owner and his brother! Looks like you are probably going to miss out this season. 4 points is a lot to claw back with only two games remaining.

What moments/goals/experiences stand out for you in previous Tranmere v Oldham matches? 

We used to have quite a good rivalry with Tranmere in our League One days. I remember Clint Hill playing and scoring for us against Tranmere in 2002, although the one that stands out for me is a game at Prenton Park in 2007. Oldham won 1-0 with a Craig Davies header in the 96th minute. I used to love our rivalry with Ronnie Moore and he was always a good pantomime villain whenever we played each other, most notably in 2009 when Joe Royle returned as Oldham manager and you beat us 2-0. I think his son scored in that game.

Finally, touching on the January recruitment and the upcoming summer. Would you say any of the three winter signings have been relatively influential and what business would you like the club to look at completing in the upcoming months? 

We only made three winter signings anyway. One of them (Christopher Missilou) has been alright at best, Tope Obadeyi played well on his debut but has either been injured or rubbish since (including one of the worst individual performances I have ever seen against Northampton on Good Friday) and Mike Fondop came in, got concussed, returned in a game at Newport, scored twice and tore his calf. He’s never been seen since. As for the summer, it needs a complete overhaul. I would happily see every single player on our books released, not one of them are worth keeping. A priority for the National League is probably a big donkey to play up front and two bulldozing centre halves, a bit like you had with McNulty a couple of years ago. It is going to be an interesting summer to say the least.

Tranmere’s League Two season, in terms of the games they play at Prenton Park, comes to an end on Saturday afternoon and it’s not a campaign that many will look back on too fondly. However, fans do have a few glimmers of hope in the form of their exciting standout players with Elliott Nevitt and Lee O’Connor being two that have shone across the last year, namely.

Scott Froggatt, my time in Ghana.

Scott Froggatt – My Time In Ghana.

Last summer, travel company African Adventures announced that they had teamed up with Tranmere Rovers in the Community to offer its supporters a unique opportunity to volunteer in Ghana. That trip took place earlier this month and I spoke to Scott Froggatt about his time in West Africa, he came back with many great memories.

When you first heard about the opportunity to go over to Ghana, what were your initial thoughts and was it something that you were always interested in?

I’ve always wanted to go over to Africa, not Ghana specifically, because it’s one of those continents that not many people you are friends with have been to. The link with the club was also a good factor, the opportunity was being presented to me as a Tranmere supporter so it was pretty easy to say ‘yes’ to.

The people you went over with, what were they like and were they all Tranmere supporters?

Most of them were Rovers supporters and from when we signed up to the trip there was a few information evenings and time to get to know the group. Most of them were Tranmere supporters but if they weren’t they would be connected to the club in the form of their friend or family being a supporter so there was always something to talk about. There was an instant gelling when we went over to Ghana as we were all part of the same group.

How great would you say your time was over there? What activities did you do and what places did you see? Also, what was it like to meet the Ghanaian people?

The overall objective was to have a good impact in the area that we were based. The group we travelled over with were split up into three different schools and we met Burton Albion’s community trust who had also travelled over there. The school I went to was called Woe E.P Basic School and the two other groups were sent to schools in nearby villages. 

At the school, we painted and renovated the classrooms which helped the teachers and the Burton Albion group helped the construction team with their buildings. The first big event we did happened as soon as we landed in Accra and Idrissu, who many Tranmere supporters will know from social media, was waiting outside the airport for us in his Rovers shirt and scarf which was a nice touch. It was a little bit surreal to meet him. 

How good was it to see the Ghanian children that you did? There are a few great photos of them with Tranmere shirts on.

Again, it was surreal. They were crazy in terms of their enthusiasm and happiness, it was great to see. What we’d class as basic was met with so much enthusiasm there. For example, we’d kick a football around and they’d be going mad. There’s a video of me picking up a bean bag and the whole school was running after me. I’m sure the people who are going next year will experience the same thing and that is something that they should massively look forward to. When we left the school, we gave them mini eggs and it almost caused a riot with enthusiasm and that certainly wouldn’t happen in England. 

Is this trip something that you’d like to go on again?

Yeah, it is. They’re in the process of getting the information for next year’s trip together and it seems likely that we’ll be going back to the same villages to continue the great connections that we have with them. It’s important to maintain the partnership and aim to make it that bit stronger. 

When you were talking to Idrissu and others that live over there, did they mention any plans to come and experience life here?

They didn’t actually say, to be honest. We raised all the money for Idrissu to come over here and come to Prenton Park but then COVID hit and I’m not too sure what happened with that money. However, I’m sure he’d love to come to a Tranmere game one day. 

I spoke to the locals about it but it seemed like something that maybe wasn’t possible. 

Touching on the Tranmere painting that you and your group completed, how did that come about?

Yeah, that’s interesting as we wouldn’t have done that if they didn’t ask for us to do it as going over there was not about us but about helping to improve the child’s education. However, we were asked to paint it so that they could remember us in that way and the painting is testament to the work that we’ve done out there. The fact that they wanted us to put our name on their school was quite a big statement, I thought, and it shows the affection that we have for them and that they have for us. 

Stevenage F.C meeting the opposition.

Stevenage F.C meeting the opposition.

The season is now drawing to an end and as Tranmere have three games remaining, their sights and expectations have been set on a final Play-off spot. 

In order to get in the top seven, Micky Mellon’s side will need to have a good return from their final three games. They have two away from home where they have been poor this campaign and the first of the three fixtures sees them come up against Steve Evans’ Stevenage.

Boro sit 22nd in the League Two table and as they currently sit one place above the drop zone, where it seems Oldham Athletic will take 23rd, their fans seem relatively excited about the future with Evans in the dugout. To find more out about Stevenage, I spoke to supporter Reece Donnelly.

Stevenage are placed 22nd with a few games left of their 2021-22 campaign, with four points and a game in hand over Oldham who occupy the final relegation spot following Scunthorpe’s relegation. How would you assess Boro’s season?

A rough one! But it appears there is some light at the end of the tunnel now. It’s not impossible that we go down, but it feels like Evans has stabilised the ship enough and got us going enough to keep us up. We went into this season with such hope so to be in this situation is disappointing but with hard work ahead we just have to hope A. we do enough to stay up and B. Steve Evans can dramatically change the culture at the club.

Steve Evans is gaffer following his appointment in mid-March and has won two of his five games so far. What are your current thoughts on him and were you pleased with his appointment? The 59-year-old has two Football League promotions on his managerial CV.

Over the moon, and it feels a bit of a coup to be quite frank. If we got him when we attempted in November, we would probably be a lot safer than we are now. I think he is experienced, very much what you see is what you get with him and there is zero doubt he gets his teams working for him. So definitely bought certain expectations which drags everyone out of the pit it feels like we have been in the last few years.

Phil Wallace is the owner of Stevenage. What are your thoughts on him and are there any current plans for the club that have you excited for the future? 

Things need to change from how it has on the football side but off the pitch things couldn’t look more positive really. Our stadium is complete, our training ground is off the charts for the level and by all intents and purposes it now looks like we have a competitive budget. Just about getting decisions on the football side right which has never been PW’s strong suit. Rumours this year suggest a sale might be being considered.

Who would you say your side’s key players are?

Luke Norris when fit is horrible for any league two defence. Relentless, a good finisher and his hold up play is a huge asset to the side. Scott Cuthbert has been great under Evans and will be crucial in this battle, he knows the circuit and as captain he has a huge part to play. As everyone also knows if you can play to Elliot List’s strengths, then he is unstoppable.

How do you see the upcoming ninety minutes panning out? What is your score prediction?

I think both sides are desperate for the points, and it’ll be a nervy game, a physical game and not one for the football purists. If Tranmere turn up, it will be hard to cope with, but I feel Evans will let Tranmere have the ball and set up to stifle and then work off that. I’m not sure how comfortable Tranmere will be with that. I fancy a 1-1 which does more for you than us I feel

What is Evans’ preferred playing style and who do you believe will be in his starting eleven on Saturday afternoon?

Pym, Luther, Cuthbert, Vancooten, Coker, Bostwick, Read, Taylor, Reid, Norris, List

As I said above, we will have attacking intent with the ball but I don’t think we go into the game expecting or trying for lots of the ball. We will try to force chances from Norris’s hold up and Lists runs off the defender. Expect organised set pieces. Do not expect a proper footballing game/

What are your thoughts on Tranmere this season? They occupy the final play-off spot, there seems to be a battle with Mansfield going for seventh and come into the weekend on the back of a 2-0 home victory against Exeter City. 

Tranmere is a weird one this year. Feels like there’s no real consistency level there and despite their position feels a bit like they are underachieving. However, Mellon is an excellent manager and there are some great players for the level there. What Tranmere always have at this level is the ability to grind results and that’s a real asset.

What moments/goals/experiences stand out for you in previous Tranmere v Stevenage games?

Very little! Our great victory against you of course was when no fans was in the ground! That was a great moment over you really. It’s usually been hell against you. I remember Adebayo coming on for his debut, getting our third sending off of that match, us calling him a donkey and now he’s smashing it in the championship!

Finally, touching on the January transfer window and this summer’s recruitment, how influential do you believe the club’s winter signings have been and what business would you like to see be completed in the upcoming months?

January business has been below average at best. The Bostwick signing (despite drawbacks) and the Pym signings are the only ones you can walk away saying good enough business. Big change no matter what happens you feel in the summer at the club.

The Lamex stadium hosts this weekend’s encounter between Stevenage and Tranmere. Rovers have drawn on their last three occasions here, dating back to April 2015. 

Exeter City meeting the opposition.

Exeter City meeting the opposition.

Following their away draw at Bradford City, Tranmere are back in League Two action this Easter Monday as Exeter City travel to Prenton Park for what promises to be a really entertaining encounter between two promotion contenders.

Although Rovers’ form away from home is massively below the standards that they expect from themselves, their home form is the best in the fourth division which is why supporters are left scratching their heads as to why their placed ninth in the table.

Ahead of the game against Exeter, I spoke to City supporter Jamie Dyer who gave his thoughts on how the Grecian’s 2021-22 campaign has panned out. He also gives his relatively strong opinion of Micky Mellon’s side. 

Promotion seems a real possibility for Exeter City with the club sat 2nd in the League Two table. What were your expectations going into the season and how would you reflect back on them now? Have they been exceeded?

They certainly have been exceeded. 

Many fans were thinking mid table at best due to what seemed like an underwhelming summer which wasn’t helped by key departures with Joel Randall Williams and Jake Taylor all leaving along with the constant promises of “marquee signings”.  Having said that they were delivered but were just not who or how we expected it to pan out but we were proved very wrong particularly with Tim Dieng and Jevani Brown who most fans were very sceptical of given their track record  but they’ve been influential and I’ll go into more detail later on about them. 

If you told me that we would have been second with six games to go  in the summer I would laugh in your face but snap your hands off at the same time .

Matt Taylor has been manager of City for coming up to four years now, following his appointment in 2018. What would you say the current supporters’ view of him is?

Matt was seen as the sensible but safe option by many but given his good work  at under 23 level and cult status at the club due to his playing days where he won back to back promotions alongside Tisdale thus it was largely well received. However, the thing that impressed most during the early years he managed to build on the foundations that Tisdale left and the football was entertaining which is even better lately with the players we have at our disposal this year and his honest pre and post match interviews are a breath of fresh air. 

However, questions have been raised over his future on at least two occasions as a section of fans wanted him gone after yet another 9th place finish along with a unnamed league 1 side coming in for his services but one key  thing this year though is he’s  finally cultivated a side in his image which has so far been a success. 

In short, its been a wild ride and with Matt at the helm with the Chorley native seemingly taking the club on the upward trajectory long may it continue. 

Who is the owner of the Grecians and what are your thoughts on them? 

Our trust ownership since 2003 has been well documented  and it’s gone from strength to strength with each passing year. We’re very proud of it. It’s a model that makes the club unique and it’s how football should be giving the fans the key decision. It enabled us to do just that voting on matters like  the new training  ground being built, ground developments and it allowed the club to remain stable but also progress.

Who would you say your side’s key players are?

I touched upon this a bit earlier, Tim and Jev (Jevani Brown) have been instrumental to our success this season as has skipper Matt Jay with all three making us tick. Jevani and Tim create chances at will with very silky footwork composure and most importantly an eye for goal.

The backline has been ridiculous since Sam Stubbs has shown why we gambled on him last January despite him not making an appearance until November last year. His partnership with Pierce Sweeny is a big part of why we’ve been unbeaten in 8 and haven’t lost since early March. The 23 year old is calm on the ball and is commanding in the air. I’ve lost count of how many points we’ve won from our defensive displays.

How do you see the upcoming ninety minutes panning out? What is your score prediction?

Tramere have always enjoyed  playing  us particularly at home  having not won  at Prenton Park for 7 years  and have some good players for  this level. Jay Spearing and  Kane Hemmings to name a couple. Outside looking in, I think you’ve played some good stuff and are deservedly pushing for a playoff  place but just lack confidence and consistency at the moment. 

However, City like I mentioned earlier haven’t lost since January (at the time of writing anyway). We’ve been a joy to watch this season going forward, especially with the link up between Jay Jevani and Tim. Also, we’ve kept 16 clean sheets mostly coming away from home which tells you all you need to know but given our record on the Wirral I’ll take a point and say 1-1.

What is Taylor’s preferred playing style?

We take care of the ball, often creating through the flanks with our wing backs usually causing havoc which allows the top 2 and creative midfielders to exploit the extra space. We generally play 3-5-2 but Taylor is not afraid to tinker with it based on in game situations and opposition. 

What are your thoughts on Tranmere this season? They’re currently ninth in the table following a run of two wins in eleven games when a promotion place once seemed very achievable.

I touched upon this briefly already, the SWA are a big club in the lower echelons of the EFL and have fantastic support and I’m sure many Rovers fans will be disappointed about how this season has petered out.  I’ve been impressed with them for the majority of the season with Clarke, Glatzel and Nevitt all getting good starts  but too inconsistently particularly on the goal scoring front and the amount of late goals you’ve been conceding must be damaging in terms of confidence.  

Mellon is an experienced manager, a club legend if you will, he sets his teams up well and plays decent football. However, having said that I think you need a change whether that be higher or just Mellon but something needs to be done to address this slide  and quite frankly it’s not good enough for a club of your size especially with League Two being as poor as it is this year.

As far as I’m concerned the playoffs are  very much gone for the SWA especially with sides in better form above and below. 

What moments/goals/experiences stand out for you in previous Tranmere v Exeter fixtures?

Only one springs to mind really and that’s the 5-0 thrashing last year.

Finally, touching on the January transfer window, how influential do you believe your incomings and outgoings have been and what do you believe the club will have to do to strengthen themselves in the summer?

January was a nightmare. We brought in Offrande Zanzala on loan who has been hit and miss but has aspects of his game I like but then he was out injured for a while so we  had to get another striker in kerian Philips who we haven’t seen much of him though. 

The summer promises to be busy  especially if we get promoted but it will mainly be  trying to keep hold of talent like Josh Key and keeping a good core squad together but the main aim is to convince Cameron Dawson to stay. He’s been superb.  The shot stopper has won us numerous points alone and is far too good for league 2 but all this rests on Sheffield Wednesday’s season. 

Considering how strong we are financially, I’m looking forward to it .

Prenton Park is the venue for Monday afternoon’s encounter between Tranmere Rovers and Exeter City.

Bradford City Meeting The Opposition.

BRADFORD CITY MEETING THE OPPOSITION.

Tranmere Rovers are hoping that they can perform a resurrection of their own over this Easter weekend as their previous result, a draw against Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers, sees them placed outside of the League Two Play-offs. 

On Good Friday, Micky Mellon’s men travel to Bradford to face Mark Hughes’ Bantams and with their away form a massive reason for them being placed outside of the top seven they will be dreaming of a perfect afternoon with as little as five games left.

Former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes took over from Bradford in late February and to find a little bit more out about his spell at Valley Parade so far, amidst more topics, I spoke to Freelance Sports Journalist Adam Sopf.

How long have you been a Bradford City supporter and what started your love for the club?

My dad took me to my first game (Leeds at home) when I was 14, and my love for City started instantly. A late comeback saw us beat Leeds 2-1 thanks to a stunner from fans favourite Billy Knott and the winner from James Hanson. I finally got the bragging rights at school, and I’ve loved going ever since. Even though it’s been a downward spiral since then!

The Bantams are currently positioned 15th in the League Two table, what were your expectations going into the season and how would you assess the way the past year has gone? 

I think every City fan expected us to go up this season after the appointment of Derek Adams and our impressive start. We picked up 10 points in August, but since then, it’s been a terrible time to be a Bradford City fan. Since August, we’ve picked up just two home wins, which is not acceptable. Derek Adams’ dire football disconnected many fans from the club as we look to stagnate in League Two once again. I’d say the 3-1 loss at home to Harrogate Town after Adams was sacked was my worst experience as a City fan, there seemed to be absolutely no hope!

Mark Hughes is the man in the City dugout, following his appointment in late February, what are the fans’ thoughts of him and was it the right time to part ways with Derek Adams? 

Fans were ecstatic when Mark Hughes was announced as our new manager. It’s the first time he’s ever managed outside of the Premier League, and it shook the football world because no one saw it coming. I think fans were even more pleased with the appointment as it restored some hope for us fans after watching Derek Adams’ dark age football all season.

The sacking of Derek Adams came a bit too late. It was obvious that he’d lost the dressing room and the fans earlier than most people thought and it’s said that he had a very negative effect on the club, not just on the pitch but around the training ground as well. His interviews towards the end of his reign lost the fans after he called out 18-year-old Finn Cousin-Dawson and club captain Niall Canavan, who left the club three days after due to an apparent bust-up with Adams. Every City fan was happy to see the back of him.

Who is the owner of Bradford City and what are the supporters’ thoughts on them?

Stefan Rupp is our owner and our supporters have split opinions on him. Many thank him for helping to keep us afloat during the pandemic but under his tenure, the club’s been in constant decline. Supporters began to question whether it was time for him to sell after another dismal season in League Two and another failed managerial appointment.

However, the appointment of Mark Hughes has stopped most of the negative talk surrounding Rupp, but if Hughes fails to succeed at Bradford City then it has to be time for Rupp to sell.

Who would you say are your side’s key players and where will the on-pitch battles be held on Good Friday?

Paudie O’Connor and Yann Songo’o seem to be creating a good centre-back partnership after four clean sheets in our last six games.

Defensive midfielder Elliot Watt continues to impress under Hughes and his range of passing is far too good for League Two. Watt has been a scapegoat all season due to his lack of concentration but if he cuts that out of his game, then he’s destined to play at a higher level.

On-loan winger Dion Pereira looks to be a special player and will be a handful for Tranmere’s defence and so will Charles Vernam if he starts.

How do you see the upcoming ninety minutes panning out and what is your score prediction?

It’ll be an interesting game due to City’s poor home form and Tranmere’s poor away form, but we have nothing left to play for whereas Tranmere are fighting for promotion so I’m going for 1-0 Tranmere. Especially as we seem to be struggling for goals.

What starting eleven will be selected by Hughes and what is his opted playing style?

We’ll be seeing Portsmouth loanee Alex Bass between the sticks with Hendrie at right-back, O’Connor and Songo’o in the middle of the defence and ex-Tranmere defender Liam Ridehalgh at left-back.

Elliot Watt is pretty much guaranteed to start as we look a poor side without him. Gareth Evans has been Hughes’ preferred choice next to Watt with Jamie Walker sat just in front.

Pereira and Gilliead started out wide in our last game, but I think we may see Vernam starting due to the impact he’s been having when he’s come on.

Andy Cook has started up front all season and is likely to again, but I’d like to see Lee Angol start due to Cook’s poor form.

Mark Hughes clearly likes to play a possession-based playing style which is nice to see after being treated to utter dross all season thanks to Derek Adams.

What moments/goals/experiences stand out for you in previous Tranmere v Bradford fixtures?

Our win at Prenton Park in 2014 which sent Tranmere down to League Two probably stands out the most for me.

Finally, touching on the January transfer window, how influential have incomings such as full-back Luke Hendrie been and what would you like the club to do in the summer in terms of their recruitment?

Our January business was generally poor, as it usually is for us. It lacked direction and that’s shown in the second half of the season. Dion Pereira, on-loan from Luton Town, has stood out the most out of all our January incomings. He looks capable of beating any player 1 on 1 and his skills get the fans going. I’d love to have him back next season, but he’s destined for bigger things.

Summer will be a very interesting time for City fans as we see how Mark Hughes will cope on a much smaller budget than what he’s previously been used to. However, he must have some great contacts and friends at the top level of the game. Expectations are huge for the summer and next season. 

Valley Parade plays host to Bradford City v Tranmere Rovers this Good Friday. The last three games here between the two clubs have finished in Tranmere victories.

Carlisle United meeting the opposition.

Carlisle United. Meeting the opposition.

In the past week, it appears that Tranmere supporters have lowered their sights as they seemed to be set on an automatic promotion spot previously. This is solely down to their away form, failing to win any of their last seven. Poor away from home but great at home seems to be a constant throughout the 2021-22 campaign, Micky Mellon’s side top the League Two table when it comes to their performances at Prenton Park.

Carlisle United are the next team to travel to the Wirral and they are in great form following Paul Simpson’s appointment as interim manager. Since the news on 23rd February, United have won six league games and cemented their place in the division for next season when it seemed to be in doubt before. However, they are beatable as Rochdale found out with a 2-0 victory in midweek.

Before the upcoming fixture, I spoke to Carlisle fan and UCLAN Sports Journalism student Ben Pitkeathly who gave his thoughts on all matters on and off the pitch. We also spent a bit of time discussing the playing battles that will be made evident on Saturday afternoon.

Carlisle United are currently placed 18th in the League Two table. What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now as the campaign’s end is nearing?

I was hoping we would have built on last season where we just missed out on the playoffs, but instead, we lost key players so my expectations were never high. I never thought we’d be as low as we were before Simmo came in. 

Paul Simpson is the man currently in the United dugout, what are the supporters’ thoughts of him and was it the right time to part ways with Keith Millen? Would you say Simpson is the main reason for the fantastic recent form? Carlisle have won five of their last six.

Simmo is adored by Carlisle fans. He’s got a fantastic reputation and has a great bond with the fans having been born in the city. He won promotion from non-league and a League Two title when he was last with the club so he is held in extremely high regard. 

We weren’t going anywhere with Millen, he stabilised us for a bit at the start of his reign but the players had no confidence and there was no way he was going to turn it around. Nice guy but he didn’t really understand the club or the league.

Simmo is absolutely the reason for the recent form. The teams’ confidence has improved dramatically due to his guidance and this has been reflected in the performances. 

Who is the owner of United and what is their current relationship with the fanbase like?

Andrew Jenkins is the major shareholder. The relationship with the fans is broken beyond repair and the less said the better. I’m pretty confident there will be new owners in place by the start of next season. 

Who would you say are your side’s key players and where will the key battles be on Saturday afternoon?

We work so well as a unit it’s almost hard to pick out key players but striker Kristian Dennis is in great form with two in his last two games and perfectly complements the athleticism and skill of Omari Patrick upfront.

The back three have been immense since Simmo joined. Morgan Feeney is the rock that holds the defence together, a player you’ll be familiar with. Dynel Simeu has been excellent in recent games and looks far too good at this level. Jon Mellish never gets the plaudits he deserves and he has also been very good in defence.

I think if we can stop Kane Hemmings then we’ve got a very good chance and I’m confident that we can do so. 

Patrick up against Peter Clarke is a mismatch pace-wise and hopefully, we can exploit the veteran in the channels.

How do you see the upcoming ninety minutes pan out and why, if you do, do you believe this game will be different to the previous encounter between the two sides? (Rovers won 1-0 at Brunton Park in mid October)

We’re a much more controlled and disciplined football team from what you have seen from us before. Instead of relying on individual brilliance, we work as a team and our strikers will pull your defence all over the place. I think it will be much more even than past encounters. I’d say I’m pretty confident that we can get a result and I’d take a draw as long as we score. 

What starting eleven will be selected by Simpson and what is his opted playing style?

GK-Howard LWB- Armer CB-Simeu, Feeney, Mellish RWB- Riley CM- Dickenson, Devine, Gibson ST- Dennis, Patrick

Tactically we play when it’s on and go long when we need to, it’s quite simple. Keeping a clean sheet is always emphasised. 

What moments/goals/experiences stand out for you in previous Tranmere v Carlisle fixtures?

Tom Lawrence scored probably the best double I’ve seen at a game when we beat you 4-1 in 2013. First goal he flicked it up and volleyed past Fon Williams from the edge of the box and the second was a phenomenal solo effort. David Amoo and James Berrett got the others.

Touching on the January transfer window, how influential have your incomings and outgoings been?

Jamie Devitt, Dennis, Patrick and Simeu have all had positive impacts since they came in. 

Unfortunately Devitt is now injured. Joel Senior looked promising but he is out for the rest of the season. Mitchell Roberts, Tyrese Omotoye and Owen Windsor have had little impact since arriving on loan.

We managed to get rid of Zach Clough and Tristan Abrahams who struggled. Clough went to Adelaide on a free and Abrahams went out on loan to Grimsby. A few young players also went out on loan.

Carlisle United are the next team to travel to Prenton Park. Tranmere’s home record is better than any other side they share the division with.

Rainford 2 West Kirby 3 report.

Rainford 2 West Kirby 3 report.

On Saturday afternoon, Nathan Brooks’ West Kirby travelled to Rainford and returned with all three points after netting in the game’s latest stages.

It was a strong start to the game by the visitors as they applied pressure to a good hosting defence. However, they would come short of a clear cut opportunity before Rainford netted the opening goal of the game.

The goal was arguably against the run of play, the hosts worked the ball well across the midfield before their right back delivered a pinpoint cross to the back post, it was a well taken header across goal that left the net bulging.

An equaliser wouldn’t take too long to be found with a well worked passage of play down the channel involving Sam Haley, the ball found its way to the back post before Jazz Harris’ half volley left the keeper no chance with his effort flying into the bottom left of the net.

West Kirby continued their pursuit for a goal as they applied constant pressure on to their visitors backline, the pressure lead to a mistake by a Rainford centre back who missed the ball which allowed Josh Ross to break the resilient line. 

Ross ran the ball from 30 yards into the 18 yard box and composed himself to strike into the bottom left corner.

However, similar to earlier, an equaliser wasn’t too far away as the hosts played with aspiration and fight to beat Brooks’ side. Tempers would flare after a kick out by the Rainford right winger and after a few handbags, the skipper rose highest to the set piece. The effort left little chance for the keeper to make a save.

There would be one final goal left in the game and that would be scored by the visitors, an excellent move across midfield lead to an attack in the path of the hosts right back and allowed Ross to smash a ball which was well saved by the keeper. 

The ball was parried to Haley who found himself 18 yards out with an open goal. He expertly volleyed the dropping ball into the net, doing well to keep it down to send his side home happy.

West Kirby team: Lewis Warrington, Charlie Clewlow ©, Dan Smith, Lewis Boardman, Cam Kneen, Josh Ross, Gary Fletcher, Nathan Jones, Sam Haley, Carl Murphy, Jazz Harris.

Man of the match: Dan Smith.

Colchester United meeting the opposition.

Colchester United meeting the opposition.

With eight games remaining of Tranmere’s League Two season, sights have been set on an automatic promotion spot. However, to do this Rovers will have to improve their away form and this is something that they can start doing with a win against Colchester United at the JobServe Community Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Colchester are currently placed 20th and are eight points off Oldham who occupy the second to last position in the table. Following on from Monday night’s showing against Forest Green Rovers on Sky Sports, United will believe that they have enough in them to stay up. Freddie Sears is their top scorer with 12 goals in 40 appearances this season, Mellon’s defence will have to remain strong to limit the amount of chances he’s able to create.

Ahead of the game, I caught up with Max Harrington from ‘@viewsontheu’ podcast to talk about The U’s, previous meetings between the two clubs and how the upcoming ninety minutes may pan out.

Colchester United are currently placed 20th in the EFL League Two table. What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now as the campaign nears towards its final stages?

Expectations for any fan going into the season is always that we’ve got a chance to finish in the play offs and compete for promotion. I said at the start we’d finish around mid table and I’d snap your arm off for that right now. It’s been another poor season and that’s mostly down to the manager and the recruitment. A lot of former Ipswich players who are way past their best and closer to 40 than 30, we went down the experience route which has never been our way, I think it’s fair to say it hasn’t worked at all. I think we’ll stay up but there are some serious decisions and improvements that need to be made at the club.

Wayne Brown is the man currently placed in the Colchester dugout, following the dismissal of Hayden Mullins. What are the supporters’ thoughts on Brown and was it the right time to part ways with Mullins?

It was definitely time for Mullins to go, the results and the performances were awful. It’s a results business and we were nose diving for the National League with Mullins in charge. 

As for Brown it’s his 3rd stint as interim manager, results have improved but we’re still a poor side that can’t score or defend. We lack identity and for me Brown is not the man long term, we need to find a manager that has a style of play and a bit more charisma. Brown will probably do enough but we have to remember it’s another year of battling relegation.

Who is the owner of United and what is their current relationship with the fanbase like?

Current owner is Robbie Cowling who has had the club for a while now, it’s fair to say the relationship between the fans is now very toxic. The club has been in a slow decline for a long time and 2 years of battling relegation out of the football league hasn’t helped. Poor decisions on and off the pitch, it’s essentially Cowling’s way or the highway. His statements to fans are arrogant and are full of excuses. The fact we have failed managers in management roles at the club pretty much sums it all up.

Who would you say are your side’s key players and where will the key battles be on Saturday afternoon?

Our key player at the moment is Noah Chilvers, he’s one of our own coming up through the academy. He offers that bit of creativity in midfield and he’s almost always involved in any good passage of play we produce. I’d also mention Owura Edwards who is on loan from Bristol City, he’s electric on the wing and loves taking the full back on. He blows hot and cold but when he’s hot he’s almost unstoppable.

How do you see the upcoming ninety minutes panning out and why, if you do, do you believe this encounter will be different to the previous meeting between the two clubs?

I don’t expect the game this weekend to be much of a spectacle. We don’t score many and Tranmere don’t concede many, I only expect to see one goal in this game and I don’t see it being us scoring it.

What starting eleven will be selected by Brown and what do you believe his opted playing style will be?

Difficult to predict the starting 11 at the moment but I hope he goes with: George, Coxe, Eastman, Dallison, Kenlock, Wiredu, Chilvers, Huws, Sears, Akinde and Edwards. We don’t really have a playing style, unless you call the centre halves lumping the ball into an area and hoping someone makes something out of nothing a style of play.

What moments/goals/experiences stand out for you in previous Colchester v Tranmere fixtures?

There aren’t too many that standout personally but I always enjoy watching us play Tranmere as they’re a well-supported club and the tequila tune is very catchy!

Touching on the transfers that the club were able to complete in the January transfer window, how influential have your incomings and outgoings been?

We had an extremely busy January, so far Tom Dallison and Owura Edwards have been the standouts. Emyr Huws has done ok and us fans are really hoping we can get something out of John Akinde. For me the issue is it’s still a poor team that lacks direction and confidence, we could have signed double the amount of players but I don’t think that solves the issues at the club.

The JobServe Community Stadium, with a capacity of 10,105, has been the home of Colchester United since August 2008. Tranmere travel there in search of three points on Saturday afternoon.